I was eager for the second expansion set of “Cradle Of Humanity” since I enjoyed the Split Vendetta expansion a lot. Sunk many nights into this sandbox so I pre-ordered the DLC on GOG (Good Old Games) and watched that countdown to release ticking down. Oh boy, was I disappointed when the timer reached zero and I got nothing while people who bought on Steam already enjoyed the DLC. As usual GOG leaves Linux players standing in the rain so I called it a day and checked again on the next day when I was presented with this:

X4: Foundations patched, Split Vendetta was not, Cradle Of Humanity nowhere to be seen.

So apparently they finally managed to roll out version 4.0 of the main game but missed the first DLC Split Vendetta. What could possibly go wrong. Cradle Of Humanity is still nowhere to be seen. This didn’t change until now, one day after release and the time of writing of this article. Oh GOG, I am so done with this. And I even expected this, joking around weeks before the release date that this will be two weeks later for GOG users. Again.

Curiously I checked the Downloads for Windows next and guess what: The DLCs were all there and also on version 4.0!

So I did what every Linux tinkerer would do. I checked out what is really in the DLC files by extracting the contents using innoextract. To my delight I could not find anything operating system related in there so I threw all the Windows DLCs into my version 4.0 base game folder and extracted both DLCs.

The required files are:

  • setup_x4_cradle_of_humanity_4.00_(64bit)(45636)-1.bin
  • setup_x4_cradle_of_humanity_4.00(64bit)(45636).exe
  • setup_x4_split_vendetta_4.00(64bit)(45636)-1.bin
  • setup_x4_split_vendetta_4.00(64bit)_(45636).exe
cd /games/linux/X4_Foundations/game
innoextract --exclude-temp --extract setup_x4_split_vendetta_4.00_\(64bit\)_\(45636\).exe 
innoextract --exclude-temp --extract setup_x4_cradle_of_humanity_4.00_\(64bit\)_\(45636\).exe

When I run the game now I found both DLCs registered in the Extensions menu and could start a new game as Terrain fraction. Whop whop, here we go.

No, I will never buy a recent game on GOG again. Especially not as pre-order. I wish I could migrate this to my Steam account. This is the DRM free revolution. As usual, the joke is on the paying customer.

The State of Virtual Reality on Linux by patolinux (boilingsteam.com)
When I first learned about that virtual reality stuff, I was still a kid and it was through movies like The Lawnmower Man. I really did not understand what it was about: it was very confusing, some people in a place doing things… but they weren’t in that place, and those things were not real. La...

Looks like @patolinux wrote an in-depth article on virtual reality (VR) with a focus on his experiences on PC: https://boilingsteam.com/the-state-of-virtual-reality-on-linux/ (and how it spoils your average 3d game).

Challenging turn-based RPG 'Stoneshard' has a huge overhaul update out, price rising by Liam DaweLiam Dawe (gamingonlinux.com)
Ink Stains Games have released a major upgrade to the challenging turn-based RPG Stoneshard, one they've been working on for some time now and it's quite the overhaul. Sounds like it's almost a different game too, all the big main parts of the game have been changed in some way. Here's the highlight...

Absolute lovely. Looks like someone made the homework on mediaeval buildings and stuff and mixed everything in a nice looking fantasy RPG. Getting Death or Glory: Das Erbe von Morgan vibes from this. Stoneshard goes totally on my wishlist.

There’s a weird issue with (snap) on that starts when using voice chat causing really bad lag and short freezes (input, rendering, everything) that became worse over time. My journal filled up with looping messages from appindicator causing this.

appindicatorsupport(at)rgcjonas.gmail.com[2514]: discord1, Impossible to lookup icon for 'discord1_12-panel'

Followed by a JS exception and trace:

JS ERROR: Exception in callback for signal: icon: Error: Argument 'filename' (type filename) may not be null

When I finally found the cause of this I went on looking for a solution and it seems like the unsung hero @3v1n0 fixed this long standing bug like 8 days ago: https://github.com/ubuntu/gnome-shell-extension-appindicator/commit/745c66a73e0a15a870e92e5aa461e2e9e646b899

Here is a more coherent report on this: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-shell-extension-appindicator/+bug/1849142

Fun thing is: I only have that indicator because Discord would eventually crash without trying to access this.

Now it’s patched and gone – back to 😁

Story-driven, tactical stealth game Desperados III is now available on Linux PC by Liam DaweLiam Dawe (gamingonlinux.com)
THQ Nordic and Mimimi Games kept to their word, with Desperados III now being officially released for Linux PC and macOS along with the latest update. "Desperados III is a story-driven, hardcore tactical stealth game, set in a ruthless Wild West scenario. Play smart if you want to succeed. A good pl...

Man, this is a 180° turn for me. When I started out with Linux the GPUs where usually troublemakers and I kinda got used to throw moar power at it to solve the problem. Spent nights fiddling with Elsa Winner or 3Dfx Vodoo or some ATI cards (that eventual became AMD). When laptops of mine could no longer be used because AMD simply dropped support for perfectly fine hardware I was really never again buying from it again.

The background for finally ripping out the heart of my Linux PC is basically this issue: https://beko.famkos.net/2020/01/17/computer-fallen

NVRM: GPU 0000:01:00.0: GPU has fallen off the bus.

This is followed by a frozen X server rendering all HID interfaces dead until reboot. It happened once or twice a week. NVIDIA support has no idea and while the card is still fine and up for any task I finally decided to get a more recent GPU hoping that the problem will be gone (and not be an issue from the mainboard).

So here I am in 2020 ripping out the heart of my Linux PC.

The decision to try AMD again after a decade was basically made because I read so much positive news on their open source drivers and general good support by Mesa nowadays. Since nothing about the old fglrx days is valid any more this is sort of a jump into cold water for me 🙂

I decided for the slightly older RX 5600 XT 14Gbps 6GB (THICC III Pro) edition by XFX that seems to be good for 1080p gaming and this is close to my main display resolution of 1920×1200. While I never heard of XFX before I was hooked by NO RGB and that tiny vBios switch it has offering a backup bios. That’s a feature I like in my mainboards as well.

Speaking of I heard a lot of confusion on said vBioses on this series so I digged deeper on this topic. Thankfully a lot of the legwork was already done for me by André Almeida who describes the process for Linux PC on https://andrealmeid.com/post/2020-05-01-vbios2/ after a lot of research in part 1.

With the help of the mentioned tool amdvbflash I was able to drag the following vBios information out of the GPU:

AMDVBFLASH version 4.71, Copyright (c) 2020 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.

    Product Name is :    NAVI10 A1/A2 D1990301 XLE 6GB 300e/875m 
    Device ID is    :    731F
    Bios Version    :    017.001.000.068.000000
    Bios P/N is     :    113-170WCNAVIXLE6
    Bios SSID       :    5710
    Bios SVID       :    1682
    Bios Date is    :    03/27/20 21:25 

The extracted rom of the active vBios (switch was set on position closer to power connector) has the sha1sum 9ce7ecc9625d7ff39b3b08c45916b6c2e3bf4a8c and is according to the flashing tool valid and signed. I understood it’s a bad idea to flash with an unsigned rom because the GPU will probably refuse to boot. I’d upload it to techpowerup that seems to collect such roms and allows hassle free downloading but their extract and upload tool seems to be for Windows PC only.

XFX has vBios roms for the 12Gbps variant on it’s website but currently none for this one so it seems it is up to date already.

Installing it was a breeze. I upgraded to Fedora Workstation 32 before changing the GPU to make sure I get more recent drivers and that was it. System booted up just fine and the card worked out of the box. Unlike NVIDIA I didn’t need to download a specific driver first or add some further repository. There’s this nice tool CoreCtrl that shows me a power consumption of only 14W while the card is in idle with zero spinning fans. That’s right – no noise! When not in use this card consumes next to no resources which begs the question how I’m going to heat my man cave from now on 😀

CoreCtrl in action

This surprised me as well. All the cool bits are laid out for me to play with at /sys/class/drm/card1/device/. I mean I’m not much into over-clocking but it’s all there. This brings me to benchmarking the new GPU. I’m not some YTer so you’ll only get the Unigine Superposition benchmark with basically irrelevant OpenGL (I know of no nifty Vulkan benchmark like this yet) for Linux PC gaming.

The tool picked up the wrong model (it really is a FX 5600 XT)

That’s rad! My old Titan X has it’s stronger side in other features but managed only a total result of 3055 without over-clocking on this benchmark.

I’ve not much gaming experience with it yet. I just made sure that Valheim (beta) and X4 Foundations works fine with it. There seems to be some sound issue with Discord + Fullscreen that I found so far but I solved this by switching to windowed mode on the games seeing no difference in FPS.

The one notable issue I have compared with NVIDIA is that I have to set the environment variable DRI_PRIME=1 or games will pick up the integrated GPU of the i5-8600K. This is probably because I’ve a display connected to it as well so it’s active. Going to play with this a little until I get the idea. Will need some adapters first tho 😅

Update: Just as guessed. Once I had all my adapters in place the integrated GPU was not needed any more and does no longer show up. No need to use DRI_PRIME=1 for each 3D application any more.

“Releases for PC”. Oh we Linux gamers know this phrase well. So it seems that is taking another approach now instead of the usual “PC is not Windows”. Liam changed the wording on the news slightly:

Beyond a Steel Sky to release for Linux PC during July

https://www.gamingonlinux.com/2020/06/beyond-a-steel-sky-to-release-for-linux-pc-during-july

I like that approach and I shall also use “Linux PC” in the future. And not just for my .

 

Things were going smooth for a while. The pirates didn’t stop harassing my ships so I decided for drastic action. We slacked their station in the system.

The Scale Plate Pact station is no more

That sure put a damper on their actions in the sectors nearby. Surviving ships were hunted down, boarded and taken over. It was glorious. The fleet was unstoppable for a while and with each carefully picked battle it grew.

Gate duty helped to train the fleet further and a lot of sweet loot to improve and modify ships further could be collected.

The highlight was two Xenon K jumping into the sector to be annihilated by my fleet of two destroyers, plenty of small fighters and an auxiliary ship used as bullet sponge.

Battling Xenon K at the gates

This was when I decided to contact the Split while extending my mining business all over the galaxy big time. I started with a bad reputation towards Split – that’s kinda default for most races in the X4 universe – so I had a hard time to make them like me… somewhat. This was mostly achieved by destroying enemy ships near to their stations.

Meanwhile I bought several Magnetar mining ships so keep the needed raw materials on my prospering stations coming. Everything was going nicely and I decided to claim the sector Heretics End.

While I was busy building my stations to do so my new not-exactly-enemies decided to go to battle in freakin Argon Prime. Four Rattle Snake destroyers went basically unchallenged into the Argon heart and took out the Wharf. I didn’t want to interference since I just made not-exactly-enemy with the Split. From here it went downhill fast. Almost all of Argon Prime was wiped out – and I had bought most of my ships there. This! Hurt! Business!

I had not much time to mourn though. While I was busy with my new stations in Heretics End I was ended by a very surprising Xenon attack myself. First two more K ships showed up that I hardly managed to destroy – especially since most of my fleet was busy rescuing some Teladi trading station from another K.

While I was busy counting my losses _it_ showed up. The worst nightmare X4 has to offer: The Xenon Branch 9 Destroyer I entered the sector and all I had to offer were two half built stations, some Interceptors and my badly damaged Argon Behemoth destroyer.

Xenon Branch 9 Destroyer I

I tried to keep my distance while waiting for my fleet to arrive. This worked for a while but it eventually was going to destroy my station so I tried to get into it’s blind spot. That was my last stand. Out of mines and turrets, low on interceptors and badly damaged my destroyer went down with me on the bridge.

I accept this glorious defeat – for now 😀

I wonder for a suited format for a series of log entries for my X4 adventures. Mayhap I should simply edit and append as the story [of my sandbox] unfolds.

Spent most of the day hunting pirates that seem to develop a taste for my ships. The salvaged Cerberus Vanguard is a huge help with this and whenever a pirate surrenders my own support fleet of Minotaur grows. Did I mention that I just love the design of this ship? It’s such a great all-round asset that can even haul some cargo on occasion or act as small carrier.

I also stumbled over another really tiny vault. Took some time to unlock all it’s secrets but I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Raiding a tiny vault

Talking about raiding I had some notable encounters as well. A Raider tried to steal from the current head quarter. That was a mighty stupid idea and the Raider was toast before I even got close to it.

Scale Plate Pact Raider going down in a blaze

And another had the nerve to attack my medium freighters during their duty of making profit. When I finally had enough I called in the fleet and together we started a boarding operation. That was a long and ugly fight mostly because due to a bunch of Xen fighters trashing our party. Lost one small heavy fighter and 45 marines but in the end the ship was ours. Good thing the Cerberus brought a repair drone along to fix the busted engines, by the way.

I also identified a choking point in Napileos’ Fortune VI where a lot of the pirate traffic seems to originate. It’s an empty and unclaimed sector so I started building an Administrative Center here hoping to get this pest under control.

Claiming Napileos’ Fortune VI

I wonder if it makes sense to start more stations here, because a lot of other huge stations are within 4 sectors of this – the typical maximum distance for auto traders to go – and a lot of traffic is passing through this already.

Oh yeah – and I finally got all the parts to assemble the SINZA device. It’s IMHO not really obvious that it simply activated with Shift+4 because I tried to install it as modification or ship drive first.